While we have about ten hours of Ray’s recordings and some first-hand accounts from people who knew or worked with him, we don’t know much about the experience of seeing Ray in person at a nightclub. In this post, we one brief account I stumbled into at archive.org. The “Argonauts” is an obscure travel book … Continue reading What Was It Like to Visit Ray Bourbon’s Nightclub?
When I first started researching Ray Bourbon in the 1990s, I kept hearing about something called “Daddy Was a Lady”. At first, it seemed as though it might have been the proposed title for Ray’s unfinished memoirs. Or perhaps some kind of solo revue or autobiographical show. A few years later, when I obtained letters … Continue reading “Daddy Was a Lady”: The Surreal Story of Ray Bourbon’s Aborted Broadway Comeback
Despite years of searching, I’ve only found one sound film where we get to see Ray Bourbon performing. In his silent films and in Gold Diggers of 1937, we only see Ray in a small, non-speaking bit roles. Several years ago, someone saw my website about Ray and, seeing I was looking for films where … Continue reading Watch Ray Bourbon in “Hip Zip Hooray”
I’m probably going to get into trouble with some Carol Burnett fans with this post, but there’s a persistent story about Ray Bourbon’s connection to an iconic Burnett character that is worth exploring. Just about everyone who was around in the sixties and seventies was familiar with Carol Burnett’s famous “Charwoman” character. Carol, dressed in … Continue reading Ray Bourbon’s “Mop Lady” and Carol Burnett’s “Charwoman”
Ray Bourbon was convicted on February 21, 1970 of Accomplice to Murder with Malice in the case of the Crain and Chrisco killing of kennel owner A.D. Blount. He was 77 years old. Ray was sentenced to 99 years in jail due to his advanced age and health, bringing to a close a saga that … Continue reading Ray Bourbon’s Last Months at the Brownwood County Jail
Some time ago, while searching for one of the aliases in Ray Bourbon's FBI file - Richard Fabien Mann - I discovered that Ray had published a novel, Hookers, in 1932. There was a listing for it in the Library of Congress copyright entries, showing Ray as the actual author, and a Variety article from … Continue reading “Speaking of Hams” – Another Possible Book by Ray
One of the more unusual credits hawked by Ray that always seemed odd - and implausible - to me was included in photographer and filmmaker Avery Willard’s 1971 book, Female Impersonation. According to Willard, Ray, billed as “Ramon Icarez”, performed a fire dance at the opening of the Los Angeles Coliseum. The four-age bio in … Continue reading Did Ray Perform a Fire Dance at the Opening of the Los Angeles Coliseum?
From late 1934 through the summer of 1935, Ray was a fixture at Auby’s Lagoon, a nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida. In the Miami Tribune, I found dozens of ads and mentions in columns about area nightlife of Ray acting as an MC and performer at the club during that period. One column, from the … Continue reading Have a Drink With Ray at Auby’s Lagoon and the Rendezvous
I've just updated the Performance Venues on the site, listing all of the documented places Ray appeared, year by year, during his career. At least, these are the venues I've been able to document so far, based on newspaper and magazine ads, reviews, and articles. The material has been drawn from my research library over … Continue reading Performance Venues Page Updated
Despite a career on stage that spanned fifty years (and thirty years of recordings), Ray is probably most infamous for his 1950s "sex change" hoax. The main artifact of it today is his outrageously titled album, Let Me Tell You About My Operation and the funny title track where Ray sings, "There's been a change in … Continue reading The Story of Ray’s “Sex Change”